Believe it or not, spring really is just right around the corner! And for over 50 million Americans that means those budding leaves and flowers bring a host of misery, including relentless sneezing, runny and congested noses, watery eyes, sore throat and headaches by way of pollen. Spring allergies can begin as early as February in the Midwest with tree pollen followed by grass a bit later.
For those in the workforce who suffer from spring allergies, this time of year can make it difficult to focus on the job or on proper safety measures for two reasons: the allergy symptoms themselves and the medications taken to combat them.
Here are some workplace and lifestyle tips to help win the war against springtime allergies:
• Make sure your work areas are well ventilated and have proper humidity
• Regularly dust work areas
• Change air filters frequently
• Clean or replace soiled, dusty or moldy carpet – pollen and other allergens get transferred easily from clothing and shoes
• Working outside:
o Wear NIOSH-approved masks, which can filter at least 95 percent of pollen and other airborne allergens
o Wear long pants, long sleeves, and gloves to protect your skin from allergens
o Work when cloudy skies and calm winds, if possible – pollen counts are higher on sunny, breezy days
• Take antihistamines that are low- or non-sedating during the day, including Loratadine (Claritin, Alavert), Fexofenadine (Allegra) or Desloratadine (Clarinex) – there are also many nasal sprays and even allergy shots that can help alleviate symptoms
• Wash and change your clothes frequently as pollen clings to clothing
• Cover up when working outside – long pants, long sleeves, gloves and masks
• Install HEPA filters to capture pollen in your home
• Keep your furry family members off the furniture as pollen gets trapped in pet hair and then transfers onto your couch, bed and chairs
• Do not line dry your clothing outside – dry clothes indoors
• Monitor pollen levels daily throughout spring and summer
• When pollen levels are high, keep your windows closed and limit your outdoor activity
It is estimated that missed work and reduced productivity due to allergies cost U.S. companies more than $250 million a year. Taking these steps both in the workplace and personally can combat the effects of spring allergies and make for happier and safer employees!